Tom Hardy is known for several remarkable performances in his career, whether they are studio blockbusters like Inception, Mad Max: Fury Road or The Dark Knight Rises or indie movies like Locke. He can best be characterised as a freak of an actor — as in his craft and style, traditionally speaking, is not the best of the lot.
But he does a few things to make whatever character he is playing way more interesting than it has any right to be.
After playing Bane, his portrayal of Marvel anti-hero Venom on Sony Pictures’ 2018 movie of the same name became his second comic-book role. And dare we say it was because of him and his performance alone the movie braved terrible reviews to become one of the biggest worldwide successes of the year at the box office.
Sure, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed were also in the movie and they did the best they could, but they were saddled with singularly boring, underdeveloped characters and the resulting performances were average at best.
A Ruben Fleischer directorial, Venom had Hardy playing the role of an investigative reporter Eddie Brock who is probing into shady human trials of an alien parasitic species called the symbiote by businessman Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). One of the symbiotes latches on to Eddie and gives him superman strength, agility, and speed.
However, it also gives him a dual personality that he finds difficult to manage.
Right from the outset, the task of gauging the quality of Hardy’s acting is mountainous. Even Hardy’s accent in the movie is impenetrable. Wherever your opinion tilts of Hardy’s weird, bananas take on the character, you cannot in good conscience deny that it is undeniably hypnotic. It transfixes you even if you did not find anything else in the movie that convincing.
Hardy is extremely physical. Save for The Dark Knight Rises, he has not used this physicality so well in any film as in Venom. His maniacal behaviour, as he deals with a mostly friendly presence in his body, is eerily believable.
For instance, this scene (embedded above) where he proceeds to take a bite from a lobster to satiate the insatiable hunger of the parasite inhabiting his body is a masterclass in acting. However, few would call it the work of a thespian, perhaps because this is a comic-book movie, and Hardy’s style here is histrionic. But this particular scene demands histrionics. For this is a many who think he is going mad and is also losing touch with reality.
Venom is arguably one of the best comic-book movie performances ever.